Sometimes the amount of data we have access to can become overwhelming. I open myself to as much incoming information sources as I possibly can and I often feel overwhelmed at the incoming sensory deluge. The ability to sort and filter all of this information quickly is important. Most people on the internet are still just searching the internet for websites, or worse browsing exclusively inside of closed networks or communities. Some of us are actually “subscribing” to data, allowing it to be sent to us instead of having to seek it out. As we use these new tools and technologies, we tell the computer a little more about what is important, and what we are looking for.
The latest generation of internet tools have been interesting and fun. They are pushing the bounds of technology, social systems, business culture, and the economy. But it is lacking accessibility and training. The rapid expansion of Web 2.0 has left most people in the dust. Many of the people I work with are just starting to understand email and searching the internet. It’s unfortunate that more efforts have not been focused on training users. People I talk to are “interested” in technology, and using it to help them in their lives. But many don’t get the training to use what they have. I believe more training should be provided by the technology manufacturers and retailers.
Training is getting better, its because more companies are adopting “open” standards. It is easier to get consumers and average people trained in technology if there is a standard way of doing things, and a standard vocabulary. User friendly interfaces are important too, but if someone doesn’t understand what they can do, what their options are, the interface doesn’t matter much. I believe too much training is invested in the specific environment, and telling people what to click. Training should focus on the underlying principals and concepts of working with computers, networks, software. Once people understand what computers are capable of, and how they generally work, they can use deductive reasoning to figure out most issues related to operating the computers.
I suppose part of the “digital divide” is that some have access to more information than others. But the best thing about the Internet is that once you are in, you can access information about virtually anything. There is almost no reason not to know things if there is access to the internet nearby. I don’t think most people understand HOW to find the information they are looking for easily. I believe its up to all the geeks out there, or technology savvy, to help those who aren’t so comfortable with technology. Instead of just solving their problem for them, explain WHY its broken, how it works, how to avoid it in the future, and how to fix it. I understand many people don’t want to hear it, but there are others who are enthusiastic to learn a new thing or two if you are willing to show.
Empowering more people to participate in the world of online communications will make it better. More people will be able to publish content and tell their own story. Thus adding to the global cache of human information. Its exciting times we live in…